I had read this book a couple of years ago, and I do not remember the plot quite well. What I remember though is, this book has changed my way of seeing the world. A chain of thought evolved in my mind when I put down the book after reading the last page, and that chain still continues as I grow older. The plotThe book is autobiographical in its language. J D Salinger plays the role of Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year old juvenile, who has been thrown out of three schools due to failure and is on the verge of expulsion from the fourth. Holden leaves school for the Christmas vacation on Saturday and is scheduled to reach home on Monday. The entire story unfolds during that weekend. Holden meets his History teacher first, who reprimands him. Holden gets angry and leaves. Back in the dorm, Holden gets upset with the behavior of his friends. One of them also physically assaults him. Totally disillusioned, Holden leaves the hostel. Holden does not wish to go home unscheduled. He checks into a hotel, where he sees people indulged in various perverse acts. He has fruitless encounters with prostitutes and topicless discussions with a friend. He brawls with a bartender who refuses him drink as he is underage. After all such incidents, he meets his kid sister Phoebe and tells her of his plan to run away from home. Phoebe first makes him see reason, then insists on accompanying him. In a bid to shake her off, Holden makes Phoebe sit on the carousel. Her happy face on the carousel makes Holden break into tears. He decides to return home. ObservationsHolden Caulfield is a personification of the youth of the 1950s. He is a totally disillusioned person, and has no hopes of the future. Failure has made him haughty and hardhearted - he smokes 'like a b***ard', teases his friends, scoffs at his teachers and wants to be just left alone.
At the same time, he has fantasies. Just like any other youth, he wants to bring these fantasies to reality - they may be just a sexual encounter with a prostitute. But typically, when the moment of sex actually comes, he gets scared and doesn't want to do it. He wants to run away from home with a girl. But when the girl refuses, he abuses her. At the same time, he gives a charity of ten dollars to two nuns. His mind may not be in the right place, but his heart is. He loves his kid sister a lot, and it is for her happiness, in a way, that he wants to return home.The Catcher in the Rye is a social comment on modern adolescents. A young mind wants to do several fantastic things, but is bound by a hundred hindrances. However, as age sets in, maturity comes and fantasies take a backseat.StructureThe novel is written in quite a different way from its contemporaries. J D Salinger has not refrained from using abusive words throughout. Holden is shown to be irritated with each and everything around him and has an impatient outlook towards life. The language is also staccato - not highly literary - but that adds to the fascination of the book. Despite its bawdy language, The Catcher in the Rye remains a classic and is studied by literature students. The story is quite short and is deeply rivetting. Each encounter of Holden is described meticulously with his state of mind explained well. It is a must read for the youth of any generation.